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OSCE’s Involvement in Conflict Resolution Across the Post-Soviet Space

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On December 2–3, 2021, a meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council was held. Amid the unrelenting crisis in the Russia-West relations, any events that facilitate dialogue are worthy of positive assessment. Especially if these are face-to-face meetings in a state of “new normal”, the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it would be difficult to argue that the OSCE Ministerial Council adopted any breakthrough decisions aimed at resolving existing conflicts. This led to the accusation of the organization that it was “mired in petty agendas.” Lack of significant and publicly visible achievements of the OSCE in recent years seems to cast doubt on the institution’s ability to contribute to security on the continent. At the same time, it raises the question of whether the classical approach to assessing the organisation’s activities can be applied without due account of the modalities of its emergence.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is not the most common example of a security institution. The OSCE’s consensus-based decision-making process and lack of international legal personality contribute to the fact that politicians and experts tend to emphasize the need to adhere to the norms and principles formulated within the framework of the organization, while at the same time criticizing it for inefficiency.

The origins of the OSCE’s peculiarities lie in the history of its establishment. The convening of the CSCE during the Cold War was prompted by the desire of representatives of the two opposing blocs to design norms for peaceful co-existence on the continent. Consequently, the solution of the fundamental issues was based on a consensus among all the participants.

Following the collapse of the socialist bloc, Moscow hoped that the CSCE/OSCE could emerge as the basis of a new international security architecture. Russia made proposals to empower the organisation through establishing a Permanent Council, increasing the role of the CSCE Troika, and creating working groups. However, the prospect that consensus decision-making be abandoned raised concerns in a number of smaller countries, and most Western representatives did not support the idea of transferring the leading role from NATO to the CSCE/OSCE [1].

Having lost its significance as a forum for interaction between the two opposing blocs but never becoming the basis for a new security architecture, the CSCE/OSCE had to imbue itself with a new identity. Due to the military engagements in the Balkans and the post-Soviet space, the organisation focused on several specific narrow areas, namely assistance in resolving conflicts, protecting human rights, developing democratic institutions and monitoring elections. The institute was designed to tackle new challenges, relying on old procedures. While this may have been effective in a hypothetical Common European Home, the OSCE’s response potential is limited in the context of real conflicts in Europe and increasing tensions between Russia and the West, all of which makes consensus-building difficult. It is therefore of particular interest to see how the organisation performs as a crisis mediator in the post-Soviet space.

The OSCE in Nagorno-Karabakh: In the Search of a New Role

The CSCE/OSCE has been involved in settling the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh since its active phase. Already in the 1990s, a three-element system was formed to work on its resolution, which included the Minsk Group led by the Co-Chairs, the High-Level Planning Group (HLPG) and the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office.

The preconditions for the Minsk Group were laid back in 1992, when the CSCE reached an agreement on the so-called Minsk Conference of 11 national representatives. When, over time, it became clear that no solution was to be arrived at in the near future, the establishment of the Minsk Group followed, and in 1996-1997 the institution of three co-chairs, comprising Russia, France and the United States, was finally formed. Within the Minsk Group, a number of concepts for conflict resolution were presented in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2008, but none of them was ever implemented. Peaceful settlement was hampered by both the opposing sides’ differing visions of resolution principles, and the internal political situation in Azerbaijan and Armenia, including the attack on the parliament in Yerevan in 1999.

The 1994 Budapest Summit actively discussed the proposal to send a peacekeeping and observer mission to the conflict zone. The idea was not carried out due to controversy among the participants. Instead, a High-Level Planning Group with an unlimited mandate was created to provide the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office with recommendations on sending the organization’s peacekeeping forces to Nagorno-Karabakh. Although the HLPG continues with its annual speculations about possible scenarios for a peacekeeping/observer operation, little if any support for these ideas among the main actors prevents these proposals from being implemented.

In the absence of an observation mission, partial monitoring of the conflict zone began to be carried out by the Personal Representative of the Chair and his Office. However, the small size of the staff, the short duration of activities and the need for preliminary resolution of the disagreements between the parties seriously reduce the effectiveness of monitoring.

Thus, the OSCE mechanisms created the capacities for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis back in the 1990s, but fundamental political differences between Baku and Yerevan did not allow them to realize the potential. Meanwhile, lack of tools to prevent escalation led to the fact that the organization did not have any impact on the outbreaks of military confrontation in 2016 and 2020. And while the conflict was terminated 5 years ago due to the military stalemate, the 2020 ceasefire was ensured by the intervention of Moscow and the subsequent introduction of Russian peacekeepers.

The qualitative change in the balance of power and the active involvement of countries such as Russia and Turkey in the crisis resulted in the OSCE mechanisms losing their previous significance in resolving the conflict, and in order to maintain them, they had to find a new role in the changed conditions [2].

The OSCE in Resolving the South Ossetian Crisis: Mission Closed

The OSCE was involved in resolving the conflict in South Ossetia when the main mechanisms for its settlement had already been formed. This greatly influenced the work of the organization. The Mission was created in 1992 at Tbilisi’s initiative, after the Agreement on Principles of Settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict was signed, with the mission being accordingly integrated into the already established structures. The OSCE participated in the work of the Joint Control Commission (JCC), which included Georgia, Russia, North and South Ossetia, monitored the Joint Peacekeeping Forces, consisting of Georgian, Russian and Ossetian forces, and conducted ceasefire monitoring. The organisation also worked to find a solution to the conflict. The patrolling of the Russian-Georgian border, which has been carried out since 1999, was called off in 2005 at Moscow’s initiative.

However, the mission did not make a significant contribution to the resolution of the conflict, despite the achievements in certain humanitarian issues. This can be explained both by the aforementioned secondary nature in comparison with the already created structures and by a lack of support among the key political actors. In particular, the OSCE conflict resolution suggestions developed independently of the JCC were not supported by the parties. Already in 1994, South Ossetia rejected a proposal guaranteeing its autonomous status within Georgia [3]. In August 2008, the OSCE monitored the development of the conflict, but did not play a significant role in its stabilization. Therefore, the mission was soon withdrawn due to controversy between Russia and the other member states of the organisation.

The OSCE Mission to Moldova: Small Steps Policy

The OSCE participated in the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict once its most acute phase had been overcome. In particular, the organisation was puzzled by the signing of a ceasefire agreement and the establishment of the Joint Control Commission (JCC), consisting of representatives of the armed forces of Moldova, Russia and the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. According to its mandate, the mission should assist in laying the groundwork for dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol, collecting information about the situation in the region, providing consultations, and encouraging negotiations on the conclusion of an agreement on the status of the PMR and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Late in 1999, the mandate of the OSCE mission was expanded with the additional task of “ensuring transparency of the removal and destruction of Russian ammunition and armaments”.

The participation of the OSCE mission in the settlement of the crisis is ensured both through observers and through involvement in the negotiation process. The OSCE, along with Russia and Ukraine, is a guarantor of the 5+2 format. Over 28 years, the mission has helped to resolve a number of issues, including the opening of traffic on the bridge across the Dnieper River near the village of Gura Bîcului, providing Moldovan farmers with access to plots in the Dubăsari District of Transnistria, recognition of documents and license plates, etc. However, one cannot speak of a substantial intermediary contribution by the OSCE to the conflict resolution process. Progress in this process can only be achieved by changing the policies of the leading actors. Thus, the proposals of the mission representatives on possible ways out of the crisis did not find support in Chisinau and Tiraspol (1993 Report No. 13 by T. Williams, Head of Mission, proposing a special status for Transdniestria) [4].

The OSCE and the Ukrainian Crisis: An Enhanced Role

Events in south-eastern Ukraine revived interest in the OSCE as a mediator in crisis settlement. A certain level of confidence in the organization on the part of Russia, Ukraine and the EU countries made the OSCE a multilateral platform where negotiations on a possible de-escalation of the conflict were conducted.

It was on the basis of the OSCE that the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) of representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE was formed with the participation of the unrecognized republics of the DPR and LPR. The TCG’s contribution to the negotiations was both the signing of fundamental documents outlining ways of resolving the crisis, including the Minsk Protocol, the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the “Steinmeier Formula”, and the agreement on measures aimed at de-escalating the military situation, including the agreements on withdrawal of troops, ceasefires and the exchange of prisoners. It was the existence of this mechanism that made it possible to resolve a number of urgent issues fairly quickly—namely, to release the OSCE observers at the beginning of the conflict and to provide investigators with access to the crash site of the Malaysian Boeing-777. With the participation of working subgroups, the TCG develops and coordinates specific agreements. However, their signing requires the support of the Normandy Four, and the implementation of the coherent measures depends on the political situation. Thus, decisions on the disengagement of forces have repeatedly been frustrated and none of the fundamental settlement documents has been fully implemented.

The OSCE’s field experience in conflict zones allowed the organization to form a Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in a short time. The SMM’s mandate includes monitoring the situation in the region in terms of security, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and incidents, especially those concerning alleged violations of fundamental OSCE principles and commitments. The observers publish daily reports on the OSCE website for the participating States of the organization and the general public.

The number of OSCE observers has increased from 100 to 660 and, together with other international and local staff, to 1,270 over 7 years of conflict. The SMM contingent has been reinforced with modern equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles. Table 1 clearly shows that the monitoring mission in Ukraine is many times larger than the contingents involved in conflicts in the neighbouring states.

Table 1. The size of OSCE monitoring missions, including locally hired staff

 Ukrainian crisisSouth Ossetian crisisTransnistrian crisisNagorno-Karabakh crisis
Size (largest and smallest value)100–12708–1838–536–17 (Office of the Personal Representative of the Chair)

Source: Compiled by the author from OSCE open data.

The OSCE mission is sometimes criticized for bias by both Russia and Ukraine, although these reproaches from both sides may also confirm its relative neutrality. Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov expressed the hope that the OSCE would be impartial in monitoring the situation in Ukraine, noting that the Special Monitoring Mission should work with both Donetsk and Luhansk. This was announced at a meeting with A. Linde, Swedish Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office, on November 19, 2021.

The SMM’s limited ability to provide a complete picture of events is also a source of criticism. In particular, it concerns the ability to establish the ownership of military equipment and to investigate the shelling of populated areas [5]. If one looks at the daily reports of the SMM and tables of ceasefire violations, it can be concluded that the documents do not specify the party that carried out the shelling and the explosions, which gives some space for interpretation.

Despite some negative assessments, the existence of the OSCE mission still makes it possible to at least partially control the implementation of the decisions made within the organisation. Besides, observers being present serves as a kind of deterrent preventing an escalation of the conflict. In particular, according to the SMM, in recent months its activities have facilitated the operation of the Donetsk Filter Station, which supplies water to 380 thousand people on both sides of the contact line.

The deployment of observers, initiated by Moscow, at two checkpoints of the Russian-Ukrainian border, Donetsk and Gukovo, is considered less effective. Russia refused to extend the observation mission in September 2021.

Thus, the OSCE mechanisms are quite successfully embedded in the general system of initiatives aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis. Strategic decisions are made at the state level, including in the Normandy Four. The TCG develops and signs specific measures, while the SMM monitors the implementation of OSCE decisions and the situation in the conflict zone. The position of states, as well as the external and internal political environment, are the determining factors in crisis resolution. Without them, decisions made at the TCG level will remain fixed only on paper.

However, the OSCE formats fulfil their important role. Firstly, working mechanisms allow a plan to be developed more quickly in case of a change in the political environment. Secondly, it makes it possible to faster come to a compromise in emergency situations. Third, the presence of both the TCG and the SMM can be viewed as obstacles to an uncontrolled escalation of the conflict.

***

The CSCE/OSCE has been accused of being ineffective and weak in crisis management across the post-Soviet space for almost three decades. However, it seems that this criticism has more to do with incorrect assessments of the role and capabilities of the organisation and the excessive expectations placed on it. The historical context of the institution’s establishment has determined its features. The OSCE cannot force peace or resolve a conflict without consensus among the participating states.

In many ways, this has led to the organization’s rather poor contribution to the settlement of the crises in Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. However, the OSCE’s weaknesses can become its strengths amid growing mistrust between states. The need to reach agreement among the 57 participating states, while making the organization dependent on the political environment, reduces fears that the institution will impose the will of more powerful players on the states in the minority. It was this credit of confidence that allowed the OSCE to become a forum for negotiating a de-escalation of the Ukrainian crisis. Moreover, the organisation has had principal experience in shaping mechanisms designed to solve specific narrow tasks over the past decades.

The Ukrainian crisis has demonstrated progress in establishing monitoring missions. In other words, the OSCE can provide framework conditions for conflict resolution, but these must be in demand among the political actors in order to for the potential to be realized.

1. Загорский А.В. Россия в системе европейской безопасности. М.: ИМЭМО, 2017. С.30.

2. Remler P., Giragosian R., Lorenzini M., Rastoltsev S. OSCE Minsk Group: Lessons from the Past and Tasks for the Future. OSCE Insights 2020/06. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2020. P. 85–99.

3. Stöber S. The Failure of the OSCE Mission to Georgia – What Remains? IFSH (ed.). OSCE Yearbook 2010. Baden-Baden 2011. P. 206.

4. Welbert R. Der Einsatz der OSZE in der Republik Moldau. IFSH (Hrsg.), OSZE-Jahrbuch 1995, Baden-Baden 1995, S. 193-210.

5. Загорский А.В. Ежегодник СИПРИ 2014: вооружения, разоружение и международная безопасность. М.: ИМЭМО РАН, 2015. С. 618.

From our partner RIAC

Dr. Maria Khorolskaya is a research fellow of the Department for European Political Studies, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences

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Eastern Europe

China Still Ambivalent About the Middle Corridor

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Image Source: Mbkv717/Flickr

Despite the oft-touted momentum behind the Eurasian Middle Corridor circumventing Russia, China still appears not to be fully behind the project beset by geopolitical challenges and infrastructure hurdles.

Overlapping Interests

Russia’s war on Ukraine has been a game-changer for Eurasian connectivity. The route through north Eurasia running from China to Europe that served as a major conduit between the two is now less attractive as a result of the Western sanctions imposed on Moscow. China-EU shipments along the Northern Corridor have decreased by 40 percent according to data from October 2022. This new reality serves as a major incentive for finding alternative routes.

It is rare in geopolitics that so many states in such a short timeframe would agree on advancing a certain project. The Middle Corridor, connecting China and Europe via Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Black Sea, is a good example of a vision where different countries from across Eurasia have accelerated the work not only on promoting the idea, but also laying the ground for its expansion.

In the months following the invasion of Ukraine, the EU has re-invigorated its policies toward the wider Black Sea region and has actively engaged Central Asia through high-level visits, pledging economic and political support. No longer willing to trade with China through Russia, Brussels is now pushing for the expansion of the Middle Corridor.

Small nations along the Corridor, too, have upped their diplomatic game. Leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Central Asian states have grasped the emerging opportunity and begun inter-state cooperation through bilateral visits and the signing of memorandums on the minimization of tariffs and border crossing hurdles.

The effects of such cooperation are already evident. Indeed, emerging connectivity opportunities push the governments to reconsider their previous position on long-stalled projects such as the Anaklia deep sea port in the case of Georgia or the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, which the cooperating states pledged to begin work on in 2023.

Then, there is Turkey. Seeing an opening in the region, Ankara has increased its outreach to Central Asia already following Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in 2020. Effectively the initiator of the Middle Corridor idea back in 2000s, Turkey is now arguably one of the critical players driving the concept. A series of “block train” transports were initiated in recent years, traversing the corridor. In February 2021, a train reached China from Turkey’s eastern provinces after nearly twenty days of transit. In April 2022, another train was dispatched via the same route. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Kazakh colleague Kassym-Jomart Tokayev commended during their summit in Ankara in 2022 “the growth of cargo transit via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad and the East-West Middle Corridor.” Moreover, the two sides “stressed the importance of strengthening coordination between the relevant institutions for the effective and sustainable use of the Middle Corridor.”

Yet, one critical player– China – is largely missing. Beijing has rarely commented on the Middle Corridor and Chinese analysts write exceptionally little on the issue. Most importantly, Beijing has invested very little in the actual development of the corridor.

Significant Constraints

China’s reticence so far can be explained by pure pragmatism. Of course, there is a major imperative for Beijing to find alternative routes as transit through Russia becomes problematic. In that regard, the Caspian Sea and the South Caucasus indeed constitute geographically the shortest link to Europe.

Yet, the route is not an easy one – it is multimodal, i.e. consists of both sea lines and land routes and crosses multiple countries which have made little effort to synchronize their transit capabilities and develop infrastructure before 2022.

Currently, there is close to no joint tariff coordination, effective inter-governmental dialogue and adequate infrastructure to process the throughput which has been shipped through Russia. For instance, lack of infrastructure in the Caspian Sea prevents convenient transit from Central Asian ports to Azerbaijan. Similar troubles beset the Georgian side of the Black Sea, especially as there is no deep sea port. The construction of the Anaklia port was postponed due to political infighting in the country with new construction plans only recently announced. In 2022, the Middle Corridor could only absorb 3-5 percent of the China-EU trade, which limits Beijing’s interest in the route.

Finally, geopolitical factors, such as instability in the South Caucasus, have contributed to making the Middle Corridor not as attractive for China as it might seem on the first sight. Russian influence is a primary factor. Despite Russia’s current weakness and incrementally growing dependence on China, the latter will have to carefully measure how Moscow will be responding to the development of a route which circumvents it from the south, in the region where Moscow has four military bases.

Kremlin could potentially rupture the connection both politically and through the use of more radical measures if deemed necessary. Much will depend on how Moscow fares in Ukraine. Perhaps a victory might even embolden it to prevent the corridor from materializing. But even if defeated or bogged down in a protracted war, Russia’s behavior will remain unpredictable, keeping China at unease.

From the South Caucasus, the Middle Corridor continues to either the Black Sea or Turkey. The former is currently a war theater, with chances for peaceful implementation of the corridor quite limited. This leaves China with Turkey.

Ankara and Beijing have promoted inherently competing visions of Eurasian connectivity. There were even hints that Turkish and Chinese influence clashed in Azerbaijan, which limited China’s engagement in the expansion of the Middle Corridor. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the situation seems to have changed and Turkey and China have opened more active talks on cooperation along the corridor. For instance, China-Turkey Communication Forum was held in September 2022, focusing, among other things, on synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the Turkey’s Middle Corridor. Yet, the pace of cooperation remains slow with little practical steps taken so far.

Looking Ahead

China might eventually grow interested in the re-invigorated Middle Corridor as a part of a hedging strategy. As was the case with silk roads in ancient and medieval times, trade corridors rarely remain static. They constantly adjust to emerging opportunities and evade potential geopolitical dangers. In the same vein, China’s massive BRI is far from stationary, but constantly evolving and adjusting to varying circumstances instead.

Although the South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea have not featured high in the BRI documents published by Beijing, the region can rise to rank higher among Chinese interests amid a new emerging geopolitical reality. This is especially the case if Russia grows even more sidelined in Eurasian geopolitics and Beijing realizes that betting on Russia long-term is a dead-end.

Author’s note: first published in chinaobservers

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A turning moment in Ukraine Crisis

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Germany’s decision to send tanks to Ukraine is a major moment in the Ukraine Crisis. It will have a far-reaching impact and may turn it into World War III. It is a tradition of the US to gang up to counter its adversaries. Iraq war, Libyan attacks, Syrian aggression, and the Occupation of Afghanistan, all were the result of allied forces, the US has the skills to make allies in addition to NATO and achieve its political objectives.

The US lobbies against its adversaries, and use all dirty tricks including media to malign its adversaries. They mislead the public and level the ground for the next stage – armed intervention. Looking at US interventions in any part of the world, you may conclude a similar approach.

Ukraine is also no exception. The US was preparing grounds for this crisis for a long and dragged Russia into it. Including Ukraine in NATO, was a red line for Russia, but, deliberately, this path was chosen to spoil global peace.

After failing all negotiations, Russia was left with no option except launch a special military operation on the same line as the 2014 Crimea operation. It was just a limited operation and should have been over after securing Russian borders only.

Unfortunately, the US had different intentions and trapped Russia in Ukraine and a full-scale war started. It was purely American war against Russia, but, as usual, America ganged up with NATO and also sought assistance and support from friendly countries.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the move on Wednesday, bowing to intensifying international pressure – led by the United States, Poland, and a bloc of other European nations, which called on Berlin to step up its military support and commit to sending their sought-after vehicles. The influx of Western tanks into the conflict has the potential to change the shape of the war. The shipments are a breakthrough in the West’s military support for Kyiv, signaling a bullish view around the world about Ukraine’s ability to reclaim occupied territory. Crucially, they may allow Ukraine to take the fighting to Moscow’s forces and re-capture more occupied land, rather than focusing primarily on beating back Russian attacks.

The US has increased its defense budget and military aid to Ukraine. It is aimed to attack Russia, not limited to liberating Ukraine only. It will prolong the war and let Russia bleed for longer.

Participation of Europe in conflict may worsen the situation and may harm Europe more. Although there are public rallies, protests, and agitations in major cities in Europe to end the Ukraine war or at least oppose Europe’s active participation. Some were chanting slogans to leave NATO. It seems the public understands the consequences but the rulers are blindly following US policies. It might create a rift between the public and rulers.

Blunders made by rulers, but, the price is being paid by the public, in the form of inflation, hikes in the price of fuel, energy, food, etc., are a common phenomenon all over Europe. The danger of spreading the war is at high risk.

Imagine, if Russia also seeks assistance from its allies and gangs up to conform to NATO aggression, it will be certainly a Word War III. Today, the World is obviously polarized and blocks are emerging rapidly.

It also can turn into nuclear war too. The 8 declared nuclear states have enough piles of nuclear weapons to destroy the whole world completely. It is scaring scenario.

But despite knowing the consequences, no one is taking any initiative to end the war and seek political solutions to the crisis. The US is not interested in the peaceful resolution of the disputes and Europe is blindly following America.

It is urged that the UN may intervene proactively and initiate a dialogue to reach an acceptable solution for all stakeholders. Unbiased, non-partisan nations may come forward to initiate peace dialogues. All peace-loving countries and individuals may act proactively and struggle to end the Ukraine crisis. Satisfying all concerned parties may achieve sustainable peace and avert any big disaster.

Humankind is the most precious thing in this universe and must be respected. Value human lives, save human lives, and without any discrimination protects human lives across the board all over the globe.

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Lithuanian society is left shaken by plans to raise retirement age

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This month Lithuanian society is left shaken after spreading the news about the increasing of the retirement age. In Lithuania, the retirement age has increased every year since 2012 and by 2026 it will be 65 years. Previously, discussion surfaced on whether raising the retirement age to 72 would help offset Lithuania’s ageing population issues.

As Lithuania’s demographic situation continues to worsen, the European Commission estimates that the number of working-age people capable of supporting pensioners will go down in the future. Brussels says that increasing the retirement age could be a solution.

The existing average in Lithuania is now 57.5 years. It should be said that Lithuania expects to reach a life expectancy of 65 years only in 2030.

In some years there will be 50 retirees per 100 working people and it will have crucial implications for public finances and may require raising taxes. At the moment, 35% of the country’s population are aged over 55.

Before prolonging its working age, Lithuania should address the relatively poor health and low life expectancy of its population. Before they even reach retirement age, many people in Lithuania are unable to work due to high prevalence of chronic, non-infectious conditions.

It’s necessary to focus on increasing healthy life expectancy in Lithuania, instead of weighing up the idea of increasing the retirement age, Irena Segalovičienė, presidential adviser has said.

Taking into account the fact that men in Lithuania live an average of 14 more years from the age of 65, and women an 18 more years, Vilnius residents are not impressed with such an idea.

The officials are afraid of possible protests which could lead even to the government resignation.

Thus, late Thursday afternoon millions of French workers were still on the streets protesting against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned pension reforms.

Lithuanian officials were quick to announce that it’s inadequate to consider a 7-year increase in the retirement age at this stage. Most likely, the news was deliberately disseminated in order to study public opinion on this issue.

Discussion is most toxic now, and will continue in Lithuania because wasting money on defence, government puts aging population at risk of poverty and death.

At the same time, the government calls for more defense spending. Together with Poland and the UK, Lithuania is leading a push within the NATO to agree to higher spending goals. In 2023, the country’s national defense budget will reach 2.52% of its gross domestic product (GDP). According to Zilvinas Tomkus, Lithuania’s vice minister of defence, Lithuania is ready to spend even more on the modernization of its armed forces and military infrastructure. The more so, spending money on defence procurement today will not improve Lithuania defence today. The modernized weapons, vehicles and equipment will be available only in some years while old Lithuanians need money right now just to survive.

Thus, chosen political priorities do not reflect the current social and economic situation in the country and even worsen it.

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